The text in this book takes turns using he/his, she/hers, and other male-female pronouns. Even if the text says he, you can still do the activity with your daughter; or, even if the text says to help your child do something herself, you can still have your son do the activity.
*Adapted from: Playground Politics: Understanding the Emotional Life of Your School-Age Child, Stanley Greenspan, M.D., Addison-Wesley Publishing Co. 1993. And A Sympathetic Understanding of the Child: Birth to Sixteen, David Elkind, Allyn and Bacon, 1974.
*Adapted from: Different and Wonderful: Raising Black Children in a Race-Conscious Society, Darlene Hopson, Ph.D. and Derek Hopson, Ph.D. Prentice Hall Press, 1990.
Are these activities right for my child?
These activities are appropriate for both boys and girls. Your child’s interests should determine your approach to the activities.
Children have different talents, interests, and gifts, and these qualities can change based on a child’s age. For this reason, the activities are designed so that you can easily change them to fit your child’s age, interests, and talents. You can also use these activities as a starting point for ideas from your child or your family. Please adapt the activities for children with special needs. Do what works best with your children and your family.
Is my child too old or too young for these activities?
This book doesn’t give strict guidelines for the activities because, no matter what their age, children have many different gifts, talents, and interests. But, as you plan to do each activity with your child, you may want to think about how your child is changing and developing. The information below describes some general qualities* of children at different ages. You may notice some of your child’s qualities in these lists.
Young school-aged children (ages 5 to 7):
- Enjoy arts and crafts
- Can draw and use scissors with effort (keep the time short)
- Like the support of adults
- Can be shy and worry
- Hold bold ideas and fantasies
- May not have words or labels for feelings
Middle school-aged children (ages 8 to 10):
- Enjoy a variety of arts and crafts
- Are more interested in the process than the results
- Are beginning to use words for emotions
- Can organize ideas about emotions
Older school-aged children (ages 11 to 12):
- Have adult-like abilities in arts and crafts
- Have words for emotions
- Use sarcasm in their communication
- Understand and empathize with the feelings of others
Many children, including those with special needs, may have qualities that are listed in all three age groups. Or, they may have features that aren’t listed. Do what works best for your child’s developmental stage.
What should I do during the activities?
For these activities to be most helpful, you need to be still and listen to your child. Make sure your child has your complete attention. When doing these activities, stop doing chores, talking on the phone, or watching television. You need to be an active listener.
When your child is talking, you can be an active listener* by:
- Sitting on a chair or on the floor to be close to your child’s height
- Relaxing your face and body
- Not tapping fingers or frowning
- Responding with a nod or by saying “Mm Hmm”
- Making eye contact
- Waiting for your child to finish—not interrupting
- Asking questions that can’t be answered with just a yes or no
- Saying back to the child part of his or her point By creating healthy ways for your child to talk about feelings and to express what’s inside, you may find out things that trouble you. The Just for Parents section at the back of this book offers some ways to help your child and where to go for help when you think your child’s feelings are more than you can handle alone.